From unforgettable scenes like Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace’s twist contest scene to the many, many iconic lines, Pulp Fiction continues to hold up today as Hollywood masterpiece, some of the finest writing we’ll ever see from Quentin Tarantino, as well as the source of an all-time great meme.
While there’s no denying the quality of Tarantino’s writing on Pulp Fiction 25 years on since its release, he wasn’t quite responsible for every word in the script and it’s not because he co-wrote the script with Roger Avery.
As it turns out, not only was that iconic Bible passage delivered by Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) an incorrect and made-up thing (actually a combination of real Bible chapters Ezekiel 25:17 and Psalm 23), it was lifted from an old 1970s film.
For those who need a reminder on the Pulp Fiction scene in question, it’s the one where Jules eats some terrified schmuck’s burger, asks him whether he reads the Bible before delivering the aforementioned monologue, and then he shoots said terrified schmuck anyway.
Chatting to Terry Gross (via NPR), Tarantino revealed he essentially plagiarised Samuel L Jackson’s famous monologue from the US-release-only intro of the 1976 Sonny Chiba film, Bodyguard Kiba (known as The Bodyguard in the US).
It wasn’t quite a word-for-word lift job as Tarantino changed original “Chiba the Bodyguard” bit to “the Lord” and… that’s it. Yeah, okay it was essentially a copy and paste job. But hey, inspiration comes from all places regardless of whether it popped into your head or if you saw it done in a movie already and thought “I’m gonna use that.”
Tarantino wins out on the style front though as the original monologue was delivered via an opening crawl of text whereas Pulp Fiction had Samuel L Jackson shouting it in his trademark menacing fashion.
Tarantino hasn’t been too shy about unsubtly wearing his influences on his sleeve in his films but this one stands as a particularly in-your-face example.
And it also seems like there were no hard feelings from Sonny Chiba about some white chap from Hollywood ripping off the opening crawl from one of his film as Tarantino would later cast him in Kill Bill as the badarse swordmaker Hattori Hanzo.
So to answer Jules Winnfield’s question in Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino has never read the Bible (as far as we know), he just watch a lot of US releases of old Asian martial arts films and borrows bits here and there.